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Feds order 'thorough' audit of Sunnybrook Veterans Centre
« on: November 15, 2012, 09:40:09 PM »
Feds order 'thorough' audit of Sunnybrook Veterans Centre

The Canadian Press
Posted: Nov 15, 2012 6:21 PM ET
Last Updated: Nov 15, 2012 8:07 PM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/11/15/toronto-sunnybrook-veterans-centre-audit.html



The federal government has ordered a thorough audit of the country's largest veterans' facility following complaints from family members about substandard care, The Canadian Press has learned.

A senior official, who requested anonymity, said Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney gave the order on Thursday after hearing the "disturbing" allegations of neglect of frail vets at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre.

The audit would focus both on how taxpayers' money is being spent and on the quality of the care provided, the official said.

"We're just trying to make sure that what veterans are getting there is of top-notch quality," he said from Ottawa.

"We want to make sure we're basing our action on credible evidence; the audit is the only tool to allow us to really determine what's going on the ground there."

The official said the aim is to have the audit completed by early next year. It will be as thorough and as detailed as possible, include conversations with relatives of patients, and the results would be made public, he said.

In articles last week, The Canadian Press outlined several concerns raised by relatives, who said they had been stonewalled by Sunnybrook in trying to have them addressed.

Among the issues were claims of vets forced to endure unsanitary conditions, delays in bathing and feeding, soiled sheets, dead mice in rooms, and constant room and caregiver changes.

Relatives also decried what they called a lack of accountability.

For its part, Sunnybrook says its care meets or exceeds standards, patient and family surveys show exceptional levels of satisfaction, and it is always willing to address any concerns.
2 officials sent to Sunnybrook

Still, Blaney sent two senior officials last Friday to look into the complaints. They met briefly with Sunnybrook managers, who assured them the concerns were being addressed, although the families were skeptical.

The senior official said Thursday the visit was simply to get an initial sense of the situation and to send a signal Ottawa was watching.

Blaney's spokesman later confirmed the audit directive and said the minister was keeping a close eye on the situation.

"Minister Blaney takes the concerns of veterans and their families very seriously and that's why he is taking clear action to investigate and address these concerns," Niklaus Schwenker said in an email.

The 500-bed Sunnybrook Veterans Centre — something of a regulatory orphan — reports exclusively to the federal government even though it takes in tens of millions of dollars from both the province and Ottawa.

In an interview two weeks ago, Sunnybrook management said the facility acts as if it were under Ontario law, and cited provincial Ministry of Health audits in support of its contention the care allegations were coming from a handful of malcontents.

"The Ministry of Health had to agree to do it," said Dr. Jocelyn Charles, medical director.

"We've volunteered, and we've been audited twice."

Asked when the most recent audit was carried out, Charles said: "The last one was two — was it one or two years ago?"

"Yes, maybe even a little bit more than that," Dorothy Ferguson, Sunnybrook's operations director, interjected.
Last Health Ministry audit was in 2005

In a subsequent email this week, Ferguson said Health Ministry officials in fact last audited the facility's 190 long-term-care beds in spring 2004, and again in November of 2005.

On Thursday, Charles said the audit that occurred one or two years ago was in fact a review done by a national independent non-profit organization, Accreditation Canada, which took place in 2010.

"I'm sorry I didn't make that clear," Charles said.

The veterans centre also relies on the non-profit to review its 310 complex continuing-care beds — which fall under provincial legislation, are paid for by Ontario, but are accountable only to Ottawa.

An Accreditation Canada spokeswoman explained the organization creates and markets health-care standards, and takes a "mentor-like" approach in advising facilities how to improve any weak spots and celebrate their strengths.

Normally, under Ontario's increasingly stricter rules, the province's 630 long-term-care homes are inspected at least once a year to ensure they meet government standards. Inspections include interviews with residents and family members. Results are public.

Not so for Sunnybrook.

"The ministry has no involvement in any oversight," said David Jensen, a spokesman for the Ontario Health Ministry.

"This (auditing) wasn't a part of any long-term-care-home type of inspection."

He also said he could find no record of the audit.

Either way, Sunnybrook insists it meets or exceeds Ontario's quality standards — even though an audit in 2005 would have been two years before the province legislated those standards.

Sunnybrook also points to patient and family satisfaction surveys as evidence its care is exemplary.

Since the story was published, however, several other people have come forward to raise concerns — some on condition the identities of their loved ones not be disclosed to Sunnybrook.

One family reported their loved one died after a fall. Another said they discovered their elderly relative with a tooth knocked out, apparently after the essentially immobile patient had wriggled out of his bed.


Mike Blais

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CVA Efforts re Sunnybrook. .
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2012, 11:36:42 PM »
These letters are presented in an effort of complete transparency. The CVA believes in working in the light, that our efforts must be guided by principle and fairness. Be advised that all issues we have addressed in a public manner have been addressed in the weeks/months prior to with the department/ministry and that our escalation level of activity inclusive of protest is dictated by response. be also advised that we have developed a very good relationship with Veterans Affairs Canada when we have engaged on issues that are related to quality of care for our WW2 and Korean era veterans.

If you have a father or mother in care that is a veterans and is not being accorded the dignified treatment you believe they are entitled to, please contact me.



From: Mike Blais <mlblaisrcr@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 8:59 PM
Subject: Re: Sunnybrook Hospital Concerns.
To: Keith Hillier <Keith.Hillier@vac-acc.gc.ca>

>>> Mike Blais <mlblaisrcr@gmail.com> 11/15/2012 9:09 am >>>
Keith

Hope all is well.

I hear that you have been in Australia, hope you enjoyed the trip and did not get to roasted on the beach sucking back some frosty Fosters.

Brevity aside, I have been contacted by some families of veterans who are at Sunnybrook and serious concerns have been raised. I was informed this morning that more will be forthcoming. As you know, Keith, I have taken a proactive stance on the care of veterans residing at St Anne's and Parkwood in the past and am determined to ensure Quality of Care standards for this generation of vets are maintained regardless of whose jurisdiction the hospital falls under. The issues that have been brought forth are directly related to quality of care, as such, I feel obligated to respond affirmatively to the request for assistance.

That being said, I would prefer to approach this issue in a dignified manner bereft of public demonstration as we felt was necessary to attain safeguards at St Annes.

I have always been forthright and willing to work with the department, this is no exception. Hopefully, we can address these issues in a unified sense, Keith and I would propose a mechanism wherein we can resolve theses issues. I suggest that we present a common front based on compassion, host a gathering wherein the department can be apprised of the families concerns in a non threatening atmosphere followed by a transparent tour of the facility and meetings with the directorship.

I think this is a common sense approach, Keith, that is required to
reassure the families and restore the level of trust they and there loved ones deserve.

This is a serious issue, Keith and during my consultations over the past
week plus, I have received a great deal of support for pro-active advocacy from veterans in the GTA and southern Ontario. I am also quite confident, as demonstrated already by the families press conference last week, they are willing to fight in a public forum.

I am hoping that we can avoid this negative aspect and working together, resolve this issue to everybody's satisfaction through dialog, sincerity and as always, with primary goal of improving the lives of of our veterans, in this case, those who are most vulnerable as they are suffering from dementia.

I would encourage you to make this a priority, Keith, as i understand it, there are other civilian, media and political aspects to the equation.

Sincerely.

Mike  305 357 3306  ///  305 359 9247

RESPONSE

On Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 5:03 PM, Keith Hillier <Keith.Hillier@vac-acc.gc.ca> wrote:
Good afternoon Mr. Blais,
As you know, Keith is travelling. In his absence, I'd like to follow-up with you in order to action your e-mail...

Thanks, Kim Peters (for Keith Hillier)

Kim Peters
Quality Issues & Control Manager
Service Delivery Branch
Veterans Affairs Canada

* I will be speaking with Kim in am.

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For Canada’s vets, GoC rhetoric and policies are at war with each other
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2012, 01:36:08 PM »
For Canada’s veterans, government rhetoric and policies are at war with each other

Gerald Caplan

The Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Nov. 16 2012, 12:44 PM EST

Last updated Friday, Nov. 16 2012, 12:44 PM EST

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/for-canadas-veterans-government-rhetoric-and-policies-are-at-war-with-each-other/article5370988/



Remembrance Day has always sent ambiguous messages to Canadians – are we celebrating the glories or the horrors of war? – but the valour of those who fought has rarely been in doubt. To the dead we could only give thanks. To the survivors, we had a debt that must be paid in full.

Given the particular devotion of the Harper government to all things militaristic, especially the heroism of the troops it dispatched to Afghanistan, it was a given that when our boys and girls came home, their every need, material and psychological, would be cared for.

For reasons that defy rational analysis, this has been very far from true. I’m not sure how many Canadians understand this baffling phenomenon. Yet simply following the Globe and Mail’s coverage in the days around Remembrance Day last week reveals much of the real story.

On Nov. 9, for example, the Globe ran a story titled Families Say Nursing Home Neglects Vets. The culprit was the Sunnybrook Health Centre in Toronto, which gets funding from both the federal and Ontario governments.

On Nov. 10, a story headlined Veterans Minister Closed Privacy Probe told the remarkable story of retired captain Sean Bruyea. His criticisms of the benefit system imposed on vets led to a major violation of his confidential medical and psychiatric files by the Department of Veteran Affairs, which was hunting information it could use to discredit him. Now the Minister has instructed the veterans’ ombudsman to shut down his investigation into this clear breach of Captain Bruyea’s privacy, one of nine complaints of privacy violations in five years.

Again on Nov. 10, in portraits of three vets, the Globe introduced Major Mark Campbell who lost both his legs in Afghanistan to a roadside bomb. Major Campbell is suing his employer, the Canadian Forces, who “abandoned” him and his family. His wife, a full-time forces reservist, feels “betrayed” by the military. They say “they have been forced to claw for every benefit and that the military has fought them along the way. In particular, he has waged a battle against Canada’s New Veterans’ Charter which – despite its rosy name – he says dramatically clawed back benefits for injured soldiers in the midst of the Afghan mission.” He found that “the institution you’ve devoted your entire life and loyalty to has turned around and stabbed you in the back.”

On the same day, a letter to the editor argued that instead of spending $28-million to commemorate the 200-year old war of 1812, the money could better be spent “assisting veterans who served and suffered in more recent conflicts.”

Finally, on the day after Nov. 11, a front page story announced that Canadian Forces families won support for mental health. The article noted that it took “repeated criticism from Canada’s military ombudsman” before the military offered such support.

Such stories actually began to appear soon after the Harper government came to power. The bitter attacks launched against his government by disillusioned vets began early and have continued ever since. When it comes to our vets, Harper government rhetoric and policies are in a virtual war, with pro-vet policies being the big loser.

Who would have foreseen that this government, of all governments, would see veterans repeatedly demonstrating publicly to protest their treatment? This year, disabled veterans and military widows assembled on Parliament Hill, as reported by Canadian Press, “to paint a stark picture of bureaucratic indifference and red tape that flies in the face of reassurances from the government, which says the care of military families is a top priority.”

The report continued: “Few of the government’s touted programs meant to help combat veterans find civilian jobs actually help the disabled, said retired master corporal Dave Desjardins, who is paralyzed from the waist down... Tracy Kerr, wife of a triple amputee who fought in Afghanistan, said she and her family have battled for years to get basic needs, such as a lift to get her husband in and out of the bathtub.”

Who could have believed that disabled vets would take their own government to court to make it stop clawing back part of their pensions? Or that their own government would spend $750,000 in legal fees to fight them? Or that their government would not admit defeat until a judge sides with the vets?

Who would have thought that the first veterans ombudsman, Colonel Pat Stogran, a 30-year vet, would not be re-appointed because of his harsh criticisms of the very government that appointed him? “It is beyond my comprehension,” Col. Stogran declared, “how the system could knowingly deny so many of our veterans the services and benefits that the people and the government of Canada recognized a long, long time ago as being their obligation to provide.”

And he added this stunning revelation: “I was told by a senior Treasury Board analyst… that it is in the government’s best interest to have soldiers killed overseas rather than wounded because the liability is shorter term.” How could the government survive such a scandal?

Who would have believed, as CP reported, that a fund earmarked to give impoverished veterans a dignified burial has turned down more than two-thirds of applications made since 2006? Or that of the requests approved, Ottawa offers just over $3,600 to cover costs?

Reporter Murray Brewster offered an interesting perspective. “ The Harper government through Veterans Affairs has poured millions of dollars into the restoration of local war monuments over the last two federal budgets. These photo-op friendly projects are unveiled by local MPs with much fanfare,” he wrote.

It’s funny with this government. The war dead are the heroes. They can rest in peace knowing we remember and honour them. The survivors are not so sure.

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Woman Accuses Sunnybrook of Putting on a Show for Federal Officials
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2012, 04:48:09 PM »
Woman Accuses Sunnybrook of Putting on a Show for Federal Officials

Posted By: Amber Gero agero@astral.com · 11/16/2012 9:34:00 AM

http://www.newstalk1010.com/News/localnews/blogentry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10467069

Amid allegations of abuse, neglect and poor staffing levels, new allegations arose Friday morning about the situation at the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital.

In a Newstalk 1010 exclusive Debra Stuart says she was at the facility visiting her 90-year-old father, when two senior officials with Veterans Affairs Canada arrived to go through the facility and meet with staff.

“It was quite a spectacle to see what was happening on the floor. The staffing was five times what it is on a typical day.  There were doctors, administrators, nurses all kinds of staff were running around. That is not a true objective reflection of the day to day situation on that floor.”Debra Stuart told Newstalk 1010’s Amber Gero.

Stuarts says this audit must be transparent and objective, saying Sunnybrook officials have shown that they do not take the complaints of family members seriously, and in some cases, deny complaints were even made to begin with.

Debra Stuart says the audit also have to be done quickly so these veterans’ last days can be comfortable and they can be treated properly.

Stuart says on numerous occasions her father has gone hours without eating, his meal sitting cold on a side table.  Her 90-year-old father has fallen and been left unsupervised for hours, and baths have been delayed because of the shortage of staff.

Reports surfaced last week with family members issuing allegations of neglect and short-staffing levels that have left their already vulnerable loved ones in an even more vulnerable state.

Sunnybrook officials denied the allegations saying they meet or exceed provincial standards of care, however according to those officials the last audit happened more than seven years ago and before the Ontario government brought in new rules for long-term care facilities.

The Ontario Ministry of health has no involvement in the oversight of the Sunnybrook Veteran’s Centre.

The Canadian Press has learned that since these allegations surfaced, the Veterans Affairs Minister has ordered an audit of the facility.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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Loved ones voice more concerns about Sunnybrook veterans
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 07:01:11 PM »
Loved ones voice more concerns about Sunnybrook veterans

The Canadian Press
Posted: Nov 18, 2012 1:55 PM ET
Last Updated: Nov 18, 2012 5:21 PM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/11/18/toronto-sunnybrook-veterans-centre-care.html



Articles about complaints of substandard care at Canada's largest facility for war veterans have prompted several more people to come forward with stories of neglect.

Some involved injuries to the frail elderly, who live out their last days and months at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre.

John Marriott said his family was appalled this spring when they found his ailing 96-year-old father-in-law with a bloody mouth, and discovered his front tooth had been knocked out.

Sunnybrook's explanation, he said, was that the virtually immobile man had somehow wriggled his way out of bed and fallen.

"We've been so traumatized by all of this," Marriott said. "It's like 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' lite."

The new complaints, as was the case previously, come mostly from part of the 500-bed vets centre that houses the most infirm vets rather than the part which resembles a pleasant retirement lodge.

Some, fearing reprisals, agreed to speak only on condition of strict anonymity, making it difficult to verify their accounts. Others were less reticent.

Oma Anirood said she was dismayed to discover her husband, Charles Taylor, 92, was left strapped in a wheelchair in a second-floor "K-Wing" hallway in his own waste for hours on end.

"If you are walking and you have your faculties, it's not a bad wing," she said.

"But if you don't know what you're doing, and you can't make decisions it's horrible. It's better you die. No point living. Who wants to sit in feces and a wet diaper all day?"

At one point, she said, she pointed out that her husband's roommate — a man without immediate family to visit him — had bed sores after days of lying in bed.

"This guy hasn't got out of bed for like five days," she said she told a manager. "They're pushing the food down his throat and leaving him in bed."

Sunnybrook, which calls its care exemplary, did act on that complaint, Anirood said.

Spokesman Craig DuHamel said the facility could not respond to patient complaints through the media but was always open to discussing issues with family.

One worker at the hospital said most nurses are caring and do their best but there are too few staff to look after the extremely frail patients.

The woman, who asked not to be identified because she is afraid of losing her job, said vets are frequently left in hallways.

"I see them just sitting in one corner for hours. It's really sad," she said. "They're sitting there with their dirty diapers. It's a lack of staff."

She said it's commonplace for three nurses to be trying to feed 15 or 16 vets, and she contradicted Sunnybrook's claims that patients are never left alone, saying she found one man choking recently with no one around to help him.
Managers say hospital well-regarded by patients, families

The Canadian Press articles outlining the complaints of several relatives about the treatment of their loved ones prompted the minister of veterans affairs to order a full-scale audit of the centre, and sparked adamant denials of any problems from Sunnybrook.

Senior managers blamed the complaints on a handful of malcontents, and pointed to surveys showing sector-leading patient and family satisfaction.

"It's not true," said one woman, who came forward after seeing a Sunnybrook representative dismiss the concerns.

"There is a huge problem when people become sick there, when they need extra care."

The woman, who asked she not be identified, said she was horrified at the poor care her father received.

"I had to fight them. He was crying in pain," she said. "It was horrendous care. I'm just so angry at Sunnybrook."

While Sunnybrook said it laid off 20 full- and part-time registered nurses in April — it says it has about 500 nurses for its 500 residents and patients — operations director Dorothy Ferguson said most were still working, and patient-staff ratios were as good or better than anywhere comparable.

The facility also maintains it voluntarily meets or exceeds Ontario standards, although no one has done a thorough, independent care audit in years.

Some online readers have jumped to the centre's defence, with one, for example, saying the care was excellent and his father was "always treated with utmost respect."

One woman, who has been keeping a journal of incidents, said there is a serious lack of accountability at Sunnybrook, which is unique in that it receives both provincial and federal funding, but reports only to Veterans Affairs Canada.

Fearing retaliation against her 91-year-old father, she, too, asked not to be identified. She said she's seen nurses verbally abusing patients, handling them roughly, or ignoring pleas for help.

"Sunnybrook is supposed to be the best but it's nothing to what everyone thinks it is," she said.

The Ontario Nurses Association, which speaks for registered nurses, refused to discuss the working environment at Sunnybrook.

Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, said if the allegations are valid, it is "completely unacceptable," noting "these old guys can't speak for themselves."

Delayed feedings or patients left without hearing aids — among the complaints — may seem trivial, he said, but go to the heart of the matter.

"All these small things may seem irrelevant among people, but that's the level of compassion," Blais said.

"If we don't have people who are taking (seriously) these very basic common courtesies that are such an important facet of quality-of-life care for these guys, what else is missing?"

Niklaus Schwenker, spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, called the concerns "troubling."

"While we await the results of the audit, we look forward to working with the Ontario Ministry of Health to fully investigate the situation," Schwenker said Sunday.

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Re: Feds order 'thorough' audit of Sunnybrook Veterans Centre
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2012, 05:12:12 PM »
Attention veterans in Toronto. I will be attending a very important meeting tomorrow afternoon at 1700 at Sunnybrook reference the recent press issues at the veterans hospital in reference to quality of care. As you know, the CVA is very dedicated to ensuring that our most vulnerable veterans are treated with the dignity they deserve. I have visited Parkwood in London on several occasions and toured St Annes in Montreal. It is our duty to ensure those who are suffering from dementia or end of life conditions, those whose who cannot speak for themselves, have our support.

Not sure if their is a place we can meet up for a beverage afterwards, but if anybody is interested, please advise.

Mike

-----

Mike Blais Rcr Cfds FYI. Sunnybrook has been very responsive to my inquiries and my request to attend a couple of hours earlier and speak with some residents. I always enjoy talking to this generation of veterans and am very much looking forward to it. Thank you Femida for your prompt response.

....Hello Mr. Blais. Thank you for your message.

You can certainly meet with the Veterans. When you arrive here for 3:00 p.m., please come in through the L-wing entrance of the Veterans Centre and call Nancy...There is a phone in the lobby you may use. Nancy will then meet you and take you up to the unit to meet with some of the Veterans.

Have a great afternoon.

Femida Lucic| Administrative Assistant to Dr. Jocelyn Charles, Medical Director, Veterans Centre & Chief, Family & Community Medicine| Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre | 2075 Bayview Avenue Rm. KGE-39 | Toronto, ON | M4N 3M5

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Health staff to review veterans’ meals (Northumberland Veterans Unit)
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2012, 11:47:59 PM »
Health staff to review veterans’ meals

November 21, 2012 - 5:51am By MICHAEL GORMAN Truro Bureau

http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/184777-health-staff-to-review-veterans-meals


PICTOU — The Pictou County Health Authority will review the food served at the Northumberland Veterans Unit at Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital.

The decision comes six months after a new meal program, which includes pre-made meals shipped in from out of province, was introduced at local hospitals and follows a wave of complaints from veterans and their families about the quality of what is being served.

The health authority is in the process of putting together a group that will evaluate the veterans’ full 28-day meal cycle. The group is to include representatives of residents, families, the Royal Canadian Legion and staff. Veterans Affairs Canada has also been invited to participate.

Alan Mongraw, vice-president of corporate services for the health authority, said the group would begin working “as soon as we can.”

He said the authority has evaluated the meal program from the beginning and thought that at the six-month mark it was an appropriate time to expand the evaluation process.

Bernie Currie is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Currie, whose 88-year-old father, Joe, is one of 20 residents of the veterans unit, will be a part of the review group. He said he hopes the process is happening for the right reasons.

“I don’t know if it’s a way of trying to quiet things down, but I’m willing to give it the time and be part of the committee. But I’m hoping this is not just lip service.”

Even before the new program was introduced, Currie was fighting its introduction.

He hasn’t given up the fight since.

Currie said his father often complains that he can’t tell what he is eating by the taste or look of the meal.

Currie has pledged to keep talking about the issue until daily fresh meals are returned.

Last week, Sackville-Eastern Shore MP Peter Stoffer, the NDP veterans affairs critic, toured the unit and sampled the food, and Currie has also appealed to municipal councils for support.

“We want them to just go back to ordinary cooked meals,” said Currie. “(The veterans) only (have) a short time left. We’re not asking for the moon.”

Cam Beaton, a Pictou town councillor, raised the issue during a council meeting Monday. Council agreed to write a letter to Veterans Affairs and the authority in support of a switch back to fresh meals prepared daily or at least taking another look at the situation.

Beaton, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy and whose father fought overseas in the Second World War, said the matter strikes a chord with him.

“The least we can do for these guys is give them a home-cooked meal each day.”

The switch to the meal plan six months ago saves the hospital $70,000 annually. Mongraw said the authority knew the change would bring questions, but the district is also faced with the challenge of living within their means.

“We believe it’s a good meal service. As we’ve said all along, it needs some fine tuning, and we’ve been doing that. I understand how people may have some objections, and we’re trying to address those as best we can.”

Mongraw, who said he has had the food several times, called it “quite acceptable” and added that he would have no problem with it being served to a loved one.

He said that beyond the normal meal service, the veterans unit often gets special meal days that include fresh baking and desserts, all of which are prepared locally.

“We try to ensure that those are included in the menu on a regular basis.”

(mgorman@herald.ca)

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Veterans Ombudsman to Take Role in Sunnybrook Audit
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 04:28:48 PM »
Veterans Ombudsman to Take Role in Sunnybrook Audit

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 5, 2012) - Today, Guy Parent, Canada's Veterans Ombudsman, informed the Minister of Veterans Affairs of his intention to act as an observer to the team conducting the audit of Sunnybrook Hospital.

"Recent allegations regarding the treatment of Veterans at Sunnybrook Hospital are of great concern to me. I welcome the Minister's call for an audit of the facility. That said, as Veterans Ombudsman, I want to ensure that the audit to be carried out by Veterans Affairs Canada is as thorough as necessary to fully identify and address issues of concern."

A formal observer role will enable the Veterans Ombudsman to follow the progress of the audit. "I plan on meeting with Veterans who reside at the facility and their families, and I want to make sure that any concerns they may raise are reflected and considered in the audit."

This is consistent with the mandate of the Veterans Ombudsman to make certain that Veterans are treated fairly and with dignity. Mr. Parent will be seeking the Minister's assurances that he has full access to the audit team and process.

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Sunnybrook Veterans Centre facing provincial, federal audits in wake of neglect allegations

Colin Perkel

TORONTO — The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, Dec. 05 2012, 4:59 PM EST

Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 05 2012, 10:19 PM EST

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/sunnybrook-veterans-centre-facing-provincial-federal-audits-in-wake-of-neglect-allegations/article6007080/



Amid allegations it has been providing substandard care to its most frail residents, Canada’s largest veterans facility will undergo a provincial audit in addition to one previously announced by the federal government, The Canadian Press has learned.

Meanwhile, Canada’s veterans ombudsman announced Wednesday that he would formally observe the audit of Sunnybrook Veterans Centre.

“Recent allegations regarding the treatment of veterans at Sunnybrook hospital are of great concern to me,” Guy Parent said in a release.

“I want to ensure that the audit to be carried out by Veterans Affairs Canada is as thorough as necessary to fully identify and address issues of concern.”

Mr. Parent said he planned to meet affected veterans and their families to ensure their concerns are properly addressed.

In probing allegations of neglect of the most frail veterans at Sunnybrook, The Canadian Press found no level of government had inspected the 500-bed facility in seven years.

The Ontario government has always insisted the centre falls solely under Ottawa’s authority, even though 310 of the beds are classified as complex continuing care beds under provincial legislation.

“The ministry has no authority or jurisdiction to inspect or enforce long-term-care home standards at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre,” said Ontario Health Ministry spokesman, David Jensen.

However, Mr. Jensen now says the ministry will help inspect the centre at the request of Sunnybrook and Ottawa.

“We are continuing to work with Sunnybrook as the terms of reference to review patient complaints are being developed,” Mr. Jensen said.

Currently, Ottawa pays $20-million for the 190 nursing-home beds in the facility, and another $6-million top-up for the other 310 beds that fall under provincial jurisdiction.

Ontario taxpayers put up $29.2-million for the provincially regulated beds.

The published allegations — vigorously denied by Sunnybrook — include frail vets left unattended for hours on end in soiled or wet clothes, delayed feedings, and unexplained injuries.

In response, Veterans Affairs announced it would audit the facility.

Details were still being worked out, but one government official said it would likely take several months to complete.

Despite the added attention, family members say the problems are ongoing, especially in the evenings and on weekends.

In recent weeks, they said they had seen among other things residents abandoned in the dining room, or left sitting alone in the dark in the lounge.

Sunnybrook, which won’t discuss individual complaints in the media, has said it welcomes the audits.

It has also blamed complaints on a handful of malcontents and insists its care is as good or better than in any comparable facility.

Niklaus Schwenker, a spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, said the government’s clear direction was for the review to be a “comprehensive, everything” audit.

“We look forward to working with the provincial Ministry of Health to ensure that the audit is extremely thorough,” Mr. Schwenker said.

“We welcome the ombudsman’s interest in being involved in the audit and agree that his involvement as an independent observer serves to strengthen the audit process.”

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Sunnybrook vets centre like 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest lite'
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2012, 06:31:59 PM »
Sunnybrook vets centre like 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest lite'

11/18/2012  | Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/national/article/236668--sunnybrook-vets-centre-like-one-flew-over-the-cuckoo-s-nest-lite



Articles about complaints of substandard care at Canada's largest facility for war veterans have prompted several more people to come forward with stories of neglect.

Some involved injuries to the frail elderly, who live out their last days and months at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre.

John Marriott said his family was appalled this spring when they found his ailing 96-year-old father-in-law with a bloody mouth, and discovered his front tooth had been knocked out.

Sunnybrook's explanation, he said, was that the virtually immobile man had somehow wriggled his way out of bed and fallen.

"We've been so traumatized by all of this," Marriott said. "It's like 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' lite."

The new complaints, as was the case previously, come mostly from part of the 500-bed vets centre that houses the most infirm vets rather than the part which resembles a pleasant retirement lodge.

Some, fearing reprisals, agreed to speak only on condition of strict anonymity, making it difficult to verify their accounts. Others were less reticent.

Oma Anirood said she was dismayed to discover her husband, Charles Taylor, 92, was left strapped in a wheelchair in a second-floor "K-Wing" hallway in his own waste for hours on end.

"If you are walking and you have your faculties, it's not a bad wing," she said.

"But if you don't know what you're doing, and you can't make decisions it's horrible. It's better you die. No point living. Who wants to sit in feces and a wet diaper all day?"

At one point, she said, she pointed out that her husband's roommate — a man without immediate family to visit him — had bed sores after days of lying in bed.

"This guy hasn't got out of bed for like five days," she said she told a manager. "They're pushing the food down his throat and leaving him in bed."

Sunnybrook, which calls it's care exemplary, did act on that complaint, Anirood said.

Spokesman Craig DuHamel said the facility could not respond to patient complaints through the media but was always open to discussing issues with family.

One worker at the hospital said most nurses are caring and do their best but there are too few staff to look after the extremely frail patients.

The woman, who asked not to be identified because she is afraid of losing her job, said vets are frequently left in hallways.

"I see them just sitting in one corner for hours. It's really sad," she said. "They're sitting there with their dirty diapers. It's a lack of staff."

She said it's commonplace for three nurses to be trying to feed 15 or 16 vets, and she contradicted Sunnybrook's claims that patients are never left alone, saying she found one man choking recently with no one around to help him.

The Canadian Press articles outlining the complaints of several relatives about the treatment of their loved ones prompted the minister of veterans affairs to order a full-scale audit of the centre, and sparked adamant denials of any problems from Sunnybrook.

Senior managers blamed the complaints on a handful of malcontents, and pointed to surveys showing sector-leading patient and family satisfaction.

"It's not true," said one woman, who came forward after seeing a Sunnybrook representative dismiss the concerns.

"There is a huge problem when people become sick there, when they need extra care."

The woman, who asked she not be identified, said she was horrified at the poor care her father received.

"I had to fight them. He was crying in pain," she said. "It was horrendous care. I'm just so angry at Sunnybrook."

While Sunnybrook said it laid off 20 full- and part-time registered nurses in April — it says it has about 500 nurses for its 500 residents and patients — operations director Dorothy Ferguson said most were still working, and patient-staff ratios were as good or better than anywhere comparable.

The facility also maintains it voluntarily meets or exceeds Ontario standards, although no one has done a thorough, independent care audit in years.

Some online readers have jumped to the centre's defence, with one, for example, saying the care was excellent and his father was "always treated with utmost respect."

One woman, who has been keeping a journal of incidents, said there is a serious lack of accountability at Sunnybrook, which is unique in that it receives both provincial and federal funding, but reports only to Veterans Affairs Canada.

Fearing retaliation against her 91-year-old father, she, too, asked not to be identified. She said she's seen nurses verbally abusing patients, handling them roughly, or ignoring pleas for help.

"Sunnybrook is supposed to be the best but it's nothing to what everyone thinks it is," she said.

The Ontario Nurses Association, which speaks for registered nurses, refused to discuss the working environment at Sunnybrook.

Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, said if the allegations are valid, it is "completely unacceptable," noting "these old guys can't speak for themselves."

Delayed feedings or patients left without hearing aids — among the complaints — may seem trivial, he said, but go to the heart of the matter.

"All these small things may seem irrelevant among people, but that's the level of compassion," Blais said.

"If we don't have people who are taking (seriously) these very basic common courtesies that are such an important facet of quality-of-life care for these guys, what else is missing?"

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On-site audit of veterans facility sparked by neglect complaints complete
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2012, 07:34:43 PM »
On-site audit of veterans facility sparked by neglect complaints complete
 
By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press December 21, 2012

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/national/Onsite+audit+veterans+facility+sparked+neglect+complaints/7733108/story.html#ixzz2FpZ3qaY6

TORONTO - Federal government auditors have completed an on-site inspection of Canada's largest veterans facility prompted by complaints about substandard treatment and neglect of its most frail residents.

The three-person audit team, which included two nursing professionals, is now analyzing resident charts and other data provided by the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre, home to about 500 Second World War and Korean War vets.

According to multiple sources, the auditors from Veterans Affairs Canada spent much of last week at the centre — its first inspection by any level of government in more than seven years.

Auditors interviewed or heard from more than 100 relatives or residents either privately or in groups.

"A significant part of this comprehensive audit is the specialized auditors' meeting with the families of veterans and veterans themselves," said Niklaus Schwenker, a spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney.

In a series of articles in recent weeks, The Canadian Press outlined numerous concerns raised by relatives of elderly vets who are, by and large, dependent on care.

The complaints include unexplained injuries, rough treatment, neglect of basic hygiene and infection-control procedures, delayed feedings, residents abandoned for hours on end or left languishing in bed for days, and a dearth of physiotherapy or rehabilitation opportunities.

The articles prompted Blaney to order a "comprehensive" audit of the centre, which receives about $26 million from the feds and another $29.2 million from Ontario for 310 of the beds that fall under provincial regulation.

The province, which at first indicated it would also pursue an audit, subsequently washed its hands of the complaints, saying now it sees no need to inspect the facility — something it routinely does with other long-term-care homes.

Instead, Ontario's Ministry of Health said it would defer to Sunnybrook, which says it is hiring an external reviewer to look into the complaints separate from the federal inspection.

"(The ministry) is confident that Sunnybrook is capable of undertaking a review of patient concerns to ensure quality and safety," said spokesman David Jensen.

Sunnybrook, which maintains its care is exemplary and blames complaints on a handful of malcontents, said it would have details of its proposed review in the new year.

In addition to helping look after their loved ones themselves, some relatives have hired caregivers at taxpayers' expense because of concerns about the living conditions in the veterans centre.

One such companion, who spoke to the auditors, said nurses were prepped ahead of the inspection about what to say — a suggestion Sunnybrook spokesman Craig DuHamel on Friday called "ridiculous" and "absolutely without merit."

The woman, who asked not to be named because she feared reprisals, said staff were told to say residents' diapers were changed "on a regular basis," which she said does not happen.

Residents are sometimes left to sit in their own urine and feces for as long as 10 hours, she said.

The companion said she saw improper handling of a resident that led to skin tear, requiring four nurses to stop the bleeding.

Staff, she said, decide all too quickly some residents are simply not worth offering therapy.

"There's a lot more family members that have complaints but they're too scared to even come forward," she said. "They're afraid of retaliation against their loved ones."

The flurry of activity that preceded the audit has subsided and residents are again being abandoned, especially in off-hours, she and other family members said.

In response, DuHamel said staffing levels "have remained constant throughout."

In his written submission to the auditors, John Marriott described how his largely immobile father-in-law was found with a tooth knocked out — apparently after somehow crawling out of bed and smashing his face on the floor — and died within days.

The man lived in fear of one nurse, Marriott said.

"I swear she will kill me if she gets a chance," he cited his relative as saying.

Sunnybrook, which has said it can't discuss individual complaints because of privacy concerns, points to surveys of residents and family members as indicative of the superior care it offers. It has also said it welcomed the audit.

The auditors — watched by two senior representatives of the veterans ombudsman — also observed various shift rotations, feedings and other practices, both during the day and in the evening.

The team is now poring over 100 patient files — with the permission of the residents or their legal representatives — as well as other documentation from the hospital.

Once the data analysis is over — likely by the end of next month — the auditors will generate a report that will initially be circulated internally before being posted publicly.

"We look forward to the results of the audit when fully complete,” Schwenker said.

Schwenker and veterans ombudsman Guy Parent, who was debriefed this week on the site audit, said it would be premature to comment on any findings.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/national/Onsite+audit+veterans+facility+sparked+neglect+complaints/7733108/story.html#ixzz2FpZ9ZQ00

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Police escort daughter from Sunnybrook vets centre after bedbug complaint
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2012, 09:27:01 PM »
Police escort daughter from Sunnybrook vets centre after bedbug complaint

Published on Sunday December 30, 2012

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1308583--police-escort-daughter-from-sunnybrook-vets-centre-after-bedbug-complaint

http://i.thestar.com/images/a1/69/3e8c0b8a45ec92f1754ef2928487.jpg

Canada’s largest veterans centre had police escort the daughter of an aged vet from the facility and warned her never to return on pain of arrest after she complained about bedbugs and a patient-safety issue.

Jackie Storrison said Sunday she was devastated and humiliated to be marched out of Sunnybrook Veterans Centre by security and issued a formal do-not trespass notice.

“I was paraded through Warrior’s Hall like a common criminal in front of a large crowd to my great embarrassment,” Storrison said. “I believe this to be a deliberate, calculated act of retribution against me for attempting to advocate for my father.”

Storrison, 61, is among more than a dozen relatives with loved ones in the veterans centre who have spoken publicly about concerns of neglect and substandard care of the most frail residents at the 500-bed centre.

Those concerns prompted Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney to order an inspection and audit of the facility. Results are pending.

Storrison said she was forced to leave Thursday evening after she notified a group of nurses that she had spotted an elderly resident pushing a food table down a hallway.

“It was obvious this resident was at risk of falling and potential serious injury,” she said. “No one moved.”

A patient-care manager, accompanied by two security guards, later told Storrison the incident had occurred during a shift change and that she should hire a 24-hour attendant if she had any safety concerns for her dad.

The manager, Jane Moreland, then chastised her for having previously pointed out live bedbugs in the linen closet of another resident, Storrison said.

“Staff had allegedly rid the room of all his clothing and bedding, yet continued to insist that the red bites on his body were an innocuous rash,” Storrison said.

“I’m not prepared to discuss other residents with you,” Storrison said Moreland told her.

Storrison, a mother and grandmother, said she was then told to leave.

Security issued her a warning she would be arrested if she returned to Sunnybrook, and, along with two police officers, escorted her to her car.

Moreland did not respond to a request for comment but a Sunnybrook spokesman said Sunday that Storrison had gone on a lengthy “verbal rampage” against staff — something she denies emphatically.

“She was verbally abusive to the point where police and security had to be called,” said Craig DuHamel.

“When it crosses a line into abuse, we have to escalate it.”

For the past three years, Storrison has acted as primary caregiver to her dad, Valmond Pelletier, 91, spending several hours almost every evening of the year with him at the veterans centre.

She said she was forced to have someone else get him from Sunnybrook on the weekend so he and her 93-year-old mother Elizabeth could celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary off-site.

“Needless to say, I am extremely distraught about being victimized by this scandalous treatment, and am very concerned about the potentially serious implications for my father and his physical and emotional health,” she said.

Storrison’s plight has attracted the attention of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy, which is threatening to demonstrate at Sunnybrook if the situation is not resolved quickly.

In a note to members, group co-founder Mike Blais called Sunnybrook’s action “draconian.”

“To deny a daughter access to her father at this time of year when she was only concerned about the welfare and safety of another veteran is unconscionable,” Blais said.

“If the voices of the children/primary caregivers will not be heard, perhaps they will hear ours, the voices of honourable veterans across this nation.”

DuHamel said the facility was hoping to “work something out” with Storrison.

Sunnybrook insists its quality of care is equal or superior to comparable facilities, and points to surveys showing high patient and family satisfaction rates.

Some relatives and attendants, however, paint a far different picture.

Their complaints include unexplained injuries, residents abandoned in soiled diapers for hours on end, left in bed for days, or not fed on time. They also said Sunnybrook managers shut them down or intimidated them when they tried to raise their concerns.

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Sunnybrook lifts ban, allows daughter to see aging father
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2013, 03:23:42 AM »
Sunnybrook lifts ban, allows daughter to see aging father

Colin Perkel

    Sun Jan 06 2013 20:10:0

http://www.thespec.com/news/ontario/article/865224--sunnybrook-lifts-ban-allows-daughter-to-see-aging-father


Jackie Storrison stands outside Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto where her father, 91, is a resident. Sunnybrook banned Storrison, 61, after she complained about substandard care of frail vets and had her escorted out by police.


Colin Perkel

TORONTO Canada’s largest care home for veterans has lifted its ban on a woman who complained about bedbugs and a threat to a resident’s safety.

After a weekend meeting, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre said Jackie Storrison could see her aging dad at its veterans centre, from which police escorted her more than a week ago.

The facility did insist that security be on hand when Storrison went to see her father on Saturday.

“To have security sitting outside the room was beyond humiliating,” Storrison, 61, said Sunday.

“I felt as though I was under house arrest. I felt like I had been convicted of a criminal offence and basically given probation with the condition that I attend mediation.”

Sunnybrook banned Storrison, who has spent most evenings over the past three years caring for her 91-year-old father at the veterans centre, after nurses apparently accused her of going on a “verbal rampage for hours on end”.

Storrison, who denies being abusive, said the allegation came after she alerted staff to an elderly resident wandering down the hallway alone and, on another occasion, to bedbugs in a patient’s room.

Sunnybrook spokesperson Craig DuHamel said Sunday the no-trespass order had been lifted unconditionally, and there was no need for security to be present during Storrison’s future visits.

Storrison, a grandmother who works in a lawyer’s office, has been among a group of relatives with loved ones in Sunnybrook who have spoken publicly about what they call neglect of the most frail vets.

They also said the facility had consistently shut down their attempts at raising concerns.

Those allegations — all strenuously denied by Sunnybrook — prompted Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney to order an audit of the 500-bed facility, something no level of government had done in more than seven years.

Results of the audit are pending.

Storrison said she was really bothered that neither executive vice-president Malcolm Moffat nor operations director Dorothy Ferguson asked at Saturday’s meeting for her side of the story.

DuHamel said he hoped a mediator would help allay any issues, but mediation was not a requirement to lifting the ban.

“We’re going to involve mediation to better understand and help us work with Mrs. Storrison to ensure we can meet the needs of her and her family in the future,” DuHamel said.

Following the meeting, the Canadian Veterans Advocacy called off a threatened protest at Sunnybrook.

Co-founder Mike Blais said he was pleased the facility had lifted its ban and Storrison would get to see her father.

“It is our hope that when the mediation process concludes, the hospital will offer Ms. Storrison an apology and implement protocols to ensure such an event never occurs again,” Blais said.

Storrison said the entire episode had left her distraught.

“I feel like I’ve been given an ultimatum with my father being held hostage if I don’t agree to mediation,” Storrison said.

She noted the nurses had never called security in the previous three years she has been there.

She also said she feared others would feel too intimidated to voice concerns in light of her ordeal.

“My mother and I have never asked for more than basic care,” Storrison said. “When that’s not provided, we’re not to complain, we’re not to say a word?”

The Canadian Press
---------
FROM CVA:

As you can see, Mrs Storrison is still very upset in the manner is which she as treated and frankly, I do not blame her. Being paraded through Warrior's Hall during the evening Bingo Time by police and security when many families and residents were present not only was humiliating, it sent a very disturbing message that cannot be dismissed in light of the ongoing audit and the necessity of ensuring those wishing to participate are not intimidated or fretful their access privileges might be in jeopardy.

FYI, we were told at meeting that the staff were very nervous and it was they that requested the security presence. We were promised it would be non intrusive but Mrs Storrison feels that this promise was not fulfilled. Fortunately, this element has been removed.

I would suggest that an independent mediator is clearly required, the level of distrust, as a direct consequences of the manner in which Mrs Storrison was embarrassed demands no other recourse if the bond between family, veterans and the hospital is to be restored.

FYI, I have been invited to a briefing next week while in Ottawa by VAC that will include the senior officials auditors, the members of the OVO and the ministers office to discuss this issue and concerns about the audit that the families have brought forth. Date tba

Mike

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First Meeting of External Advisory Committee Providing Advice on Sunnybrook Veterans Centre Audit

January 17, 2013

Toronto – The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, announced today that the first meeting of the External Advisory Committee in charge of providing independent advice on the audit of the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre was held on Thursday, January 10, 2013, at the facility. The Committee, chaired by the Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent, includes representation from organizations involved in Veterans’ issues, and individuals with health expertise.

"This first meeting has now occurred and through the participation and commitment of the members and the Veterans Ombudsman, who is leading this committee, we are taking concrete steps forward," said Minister Blaney. "The health and well-being of Veterans and their family members remain a matter of paramount importance and we look forward to the results of the audit when complete."

In November 2012, the Minister directed that an audit be conducted at the Veterans Centre at Sunnybrook to address concerns raised about the quality of care at the facility. In addition to the audit and the work of the committee, the Department has appointed a VAC liaison nursing officer to work collaboratively with Sunnybrook to continue to address any resident or family concerns in a timely and satisfactory manner.

While the audit is still in progress, on-site visits and interviews with over 100 residents and family members have been recently completed. The audit results are expected in the winter of 2013.

The Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent, has elected to participate as an independent observer throughout the audit process and is providing an independent avenue for Veterans and their families to raise additional or other concerns.
- 30 -
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Janice Summerby
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Veterans Affairs Canada
Phone: 613-992-7468
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Phone: 613-996-4649

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information@vac-acc.gc.ca
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Neglect complaints prompt another review at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2013, 09:09:18 PM »
Neglect complaints prompt another review at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre

The Canadian PressBy Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press


TORONTO - In an effort to come to grips with a series of complaints about its quality of care and how those complaints are dealt with, the country's largest veterans facility has called in an outside expert to look at the situation.

The review of the Sunnybrook Veteran's Centre this week comes in addition to an official audit by the federal government that is currently underway.

The new audit will focus on those beds funded by Ontario's Ministry of Health — a cost of about $29.2 million a year — but has disavowed any responsibility for oversight of the centre.

The review, which begins this week, is being carried out by Karima Velji. The senior executive at Baycrest, a prominent research hospital focused on the elderly, is also an assistant nursing professor at the University of Toronto.

"We would like you to focus on quality of care in the provincially funded chronic-care beds, with an in-depth focus on the processes used to resolve complaints," Sunnybrook's executive vice-president Malcolm Moffat said in a letter to Velji.

In a series of articles in recent months, The Canadian Press highlighted concerns raised by relatives and attendants about what they see as serious deficiencies in the basic care of the most frail of the 500 veterans at the centre.

Complaints include delayed feedings, rough handling, residents left languishing in hallways or bed, unsanitary conditions and unexplained injuries. Relatives said Sunnybrook was dismissive of, or hostile to, their efforts to raise concerns.

The articles also identified a lack of government oversight of the facility, which one senior provincial official called a federal-provincial "grey area."

Sunnybrook has steadfastly maintained its care is as good as, or better, than comparable facilities. It cites surveys showing industry-leading levels of patient and relative satisfaction and top scores on voluntary care reviews.

In response to the publicized complaints, Steven Blaney, minister of veterans affairs, ordered the first thorough audit of the facility in more than seven years. Results are expected in the near future.

"I'm not certain that (Veterans Affairs Canada) felt they have complete jurisdiction over all of the beds," said Sunnybrook spokesman Craig DuHamel.

"So, we felt that inviting another external reviewer in to focus solely on those beds that are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care ... would help round (the audit) out a little bit more."

DuHamel said a copy of Velji's findings will be forwarded to a senior Ontario bureaucrat for any feedback the province might want to provide.

"We will review those findings and will look to the hospital to see what actions they may take as a result," said Ontario Health Ministry spokesman Dave Jensen.

One relative, Debra Stuart, said she had accepted invitations to meet Velji or attend a focus group despite her concern Sunnybrook was orchestrating the review.

"The families are skeptical about the objectivity and transparency," Stuart said.

Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy and a member of a newly minted external advisory group on Sunnybrook set up by Veterans Affairs and chaired by the veterans ombudsman, said he, too, had his doubts.

"Without an independent quality of care audit launched by the province to ensure accountability over the 310 chronic care beds they're responsible for, justice will not be served," Blais said.

The problem, he said, is what he called a lack of accountability and oversight at the provincial level.

"If the federal government has downloaded all these veterans-based hospitals ... there also is a moral obligation that has been downloaded to the provinces as well," Blais said.

"I identify it as a matter of required legislation."

Blaney's spokesman, Niklaus Schwenker, said the government welcomed the new review.

 

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